Some longtime Board members are also longtime friends and colleagues.
I attended the NAACP’s Civil Rights School at Harvard Law School in 2007.
Still, I have been called a hater for pointing out that Wells Fargo is a lead sponsor of the NAACP’s 101st annual convention.
Whatever. It’s not what they call you, it’s what you answer to. And as sports agent Scott Boras famously observed:
If you are really effective at what you do, 95 percent of the things said about you will be negative.
Wells Fargo was the largest originator of subprime mortgages.
The NAACP’s study, “Discrimination and Mortgage Lending in America: A Summary of the Disparate Impact of Subprime Mortgage Lending on African Americans,” concluded:
Nationwide, African Americans comprise 12 percent of the population age 18 and over. However, 52.4 percent of the loans awarded to African American borrowers are subprime and/or high‐cost. Across the nation, 1 in 33 homeowners is expected to lose a home to foreclosure—primarily as a result of a subprime loan made in 2005 and 2006. This national reality chills the ambitions of those seeking the American Dream of homeownership and threatens a loss of at least $164 billion—a figure that disproportionately impacts wealth building among African American families. While no single factor is responsible for the accumulated disadvantage presented by these disparities, discrimination in lending practices is a leading culprit.
In March 2009, Ben Jealous told the San Francisco Chronicle:
These banks have a pattern of charging black people more, even though they have good credit, good assets and good incomes. The higher interest can make the difference between being able to hold onto a home or lose it.
So, what has changed? It strains credulity to now say Wells Fargo is “the only virgin in the whorehouse.”
In his opening statement before the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties’ April 29, 2010, hearing on “Protecting the American Dream Part II: Combating Predatory Lending Under the Fair Housing Act,” House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers Jr. said:
Compelling evidence demonstrates that banks and mortgage companies have committed prohibited practices of predatory lending and reverse redlining targeted at minority communities across the country. The very same people victimized by redlining – the refusal to provide conventional loans in minority neighborhoods – are now victimized by reverse redlining – efforts to steer minority residents of those same neighborhoods towards high cost subprime or other predatory loans. These practices have played a key role in fueling the home foreclosure crisis and devastating communities of color across our nation.
For example, take my home state of Michigan. The NAACP has reported that 70.7% of subprime loans in Michigan in 2006 went to African-Americans. In 2009 and the first quarter of 2010, Michigan had the sixth highest foreclosure rate in the country. And as a 2009 study by the Applied Research Center found, Detroit neighborhoods with “high proportions of people of color have the highest foreclosure rates.”
BTW, Wells Fargo is a co-sponsor of NAACP’s Leadership 500 Summit, at which one of their employees will participate in a “Recession 101” workshop.
Oh, the irony.
Later today, I will be a guest on “Dr. Boyce Watkins on AOL Black Voices,” a “new show designed to enlighten and engage a broad audience on a multitude of hot and compelling topics.” We will talk about the NAACP and Wells Fargo, accountability, and where do we go from here.